The Makerere University Joint AIDS Programme (MJAP) has today officially launched Safe Male Circumcision services at Makerere University Hospital at a ceremony presided over by the US Ambassador to Uganda Scott H. DeLisi.
In his speech, Ambassador DeLisi (in photo below) applauded the many brave young men who have come to the University Hospital in order to take an important step towards protecting themselves and their loved ones from the burden of HIV. ÔÇ£These young men are examples of the kind of personal responsibility and initiative which all Ugandans must demonstrate if we are to turn the tide of this epidemic. Uganda is the only country in Sub Saharan Africa where HIV is on the rise. That must change and these young men are part of that processÔÇØ, he said.
Ambassador DeLisi further noted that although it is an uncomfortable topic HIV and AIDS have to be discussed openly especially how it is spread and how it can be prevented. Regarding prevention, Ambassador DeLisi said that circumcision should be promoted as one of the scientifically proven ways to avoid HIV.
The Rakai Circumcision Trial team leader Professor David Serwada pointed out that it is proper that Makerere University community gets safe male circumcision services since the trial was conducted by largely Makerere University researchers. He said for circumcision to have effective impact of 20% coverage by 2015, 80% of all sexually active Ugandan men have to be circumcised.
The UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr. Musa Bungudu urged all stakeholders to take on the responsibility of intensifying and demystifying circumcision and HIV through more engagement with people in need of information and services especially in rural areas. He also cautioned men who get circumcised against irresponsible behaviour, reminding them that the procedure does not provide 100% protection.
Dr. Bungudu implored Ugandan researchers, especially those who were part of the circumcision trial to seek audience with the president and provide him with the science of circumcision as well as discuss with him the best way to implement the intervention.
The Ministry of Health representative at the launch Dr. Alex Ariyo said that Uganda has reached a point of no lamentations. ÔÇ£Ministry of Health has put her foot down and turned 180 degrees and move towards a success story. We are scaling up all effective interventions, including safe male circumcision. ÔÇØ, he said. Dr. Ariyo added that the Ministry is rolling out other interventions like ARV, with 100,000 adults and 80,000 children put on treatment every year.
Dr. Grace Murindwa of the Uganda AIDS Commission noted that ÔÇ£we must scale up interventions to highly effective levels; 20-30 percent coverage is not taking us anywhereÔÇØ.
Representing the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, the Dean of Students Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe applauded the good working relation between Makerere University and the US government, which among other things has enabled the University Hospital to offer multi-pronged HIV prevention services.
ÔÇ£Through the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), support Makerere University Hospital has embraced combination prevention that involves a multi-pronged approach to HIV prevention. The hospital has in the past been offering condoms, HIV counselling and testing (HCT), and advocating for abstinence and faithfulness through a number of peer programmes and groupsÔÇØ, he said.
He also pointed out that since partnering with MJAP in 2011; the hospital has to date offered comprehensive HIV prevention services to over 15,000 males and some members of their families, with more than 10,000 males volunteering for safe male circumcision. The programme has also trained and built 15 high performance circumcision teams that are able to circumcise over 20 clients per day per team.
The Principal Makerere University College of Health Sciences Professor Nelson Sewankambo, said that the Makerere University Joint AIDS Programme (MJAP) has contributed to the mitigation of HIV and its effects through provision of treatment and care services, supporting accreditation of 14 HCIV to offer PMTCT services, provision of VCT services through Mulago and Mbarara teaching hospitals, supporting district-based programming in Mbarara, training of different cadres of staff in HIV/AIDS service provision and supporting COBES training of medical students.
Makerere University Joint AIDS Programme was established in 2004 with support from PEPFAR and technical assistance from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS working under the Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
Makerere University Hospital serves the student population of the University, staff and their immediate families as well as the surrounding communities.